11th March 2013, hej
This Article: (4 Pages)
1) House of prayer for all nations
Many Jews may expect that Solomon's temple might be re-built again. Some might expect that the temple might look like it did in the days of Herod.
There are specific prophecies about a future temple.
Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zechariah 6:12-13)
This is backed by another promise of a king-priest,
The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:4)
One of the most clear references to a great temple for all the nations at Jerusalem is this prophecy,
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. (Zech 14:16-17)
Isaiah also speaks directly of a 'house of prayer' for all people, which in context implies others are added to Israel,
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. (Isaiah 56:6-8)
The context is that this occurs when Israel is re-gathered. It did not occur when the temple was re-built in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah as this same passage in Isaiah is quoted as a sure future event by Christ in the New Testament,
He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? (Mark 11:17)
However the most weight of evidence for a future temple at Jerusalem is a significant amount of text at the end of the book of Ezekiel from chapter 40 devoted entirely to a detailed account of a massive building. This building is set in a context of a nation of Israel with significantly extended borders: from Egypt to the Euphrates.
2) Why Herod's Greco- Roman style Temple is unlikely
Herod used classical styles, but Solomon certainly would not have. The Classical culture was in opposition to the Hebrew one. As Daniel had prophesied, the Greeks had sought to impose their culture on the Hebrews during the rise of the Selucids, leading to the time of the Macabees. Greek architecture is loaded with visual manipulation and meaning, of which reference to the (often partly naked) human form and classical thought exists. Each column type had a story with it.
Modern architecture has none of this, rather it is often about 'truth' in material use and expressing the function it enclosed.
The appearance of a building is more than the measurements of the plans and the materials. The precise form, or shape, of the materials is important. The following is an understanding of the gates of the Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy by an architect. This visualization is based on modern architectural understanding, which might be more Hebrew than Greek. Since the emancipation of Jews in Europe from the late 1800's and the industrial revolution, there has been a revolution in architectural forms globally.
Greek and Roman ideals of building form are called 'Classical' architecture. It went with many rules of composition and an easily identifiable use of decorated columns, arches, proportions and domes.
The late 1800's saw the beginning of an era of more freedom. Arguments from a popular writers to be more 'natural' also led to revival of modified 'Gothic' forms, with realistic motifs, most notably in Britain, then in France and Germany. It was the freedom of the new nature-inspired decoration, and the freeing of the rigidity of symmetry, that led to Art Noveau. The development of steel at first had no effect at all on external forms, except to allow greater spans, as the steel was often clad. Steel began to be used first externally decoratively as plantlike motifs, then also plant-like structure.
Then there was the question whether decoration was needed at all. The world post WW1 began what they call 'Modern'. One of the exemplar cities, among many others, is Tel Aviv. Modern styles emphasised that the 'form' (or three dimensional shape) reflected function (activity in the 'box'), but it really was a freedom from the rigidity of classicism.
It might not have been mere coincidence that the totalitarian regimes in Europe turned to classical, and there was a dominance of Jewish architects among the sizable exodus of modern architects who left in the 1930's for America. The Danish proponent of the modern style, Arne Jacobsen, as a Jew waited out the war in Sweden, to then postwar propel Danish design to the world forefront. In America the affect was even more dramatic. The movement of Jews and those who rejected the totalitarian regime from Germany to America went with a net gain of modern architects to America, and the confirmation of America as a leader of that new approach, though they had been more likely to follow classical ideas before that, than, say, Britain.
Hebrew truth versus Greek appearance
This caused me as an architect to ponder 'why?' Was modernism a Jewish-influenced architectural revolution? Perhaps. It relegated to history the role of the forms of ancient Greek architecture popular in the mid 1800's. At that time the English speaking world placed a high value on 'classical' writings. This value we could not now agree with, as the ancient Greek writings have been shown in some cases to have prevented scientific progress, and more seriously, to often be in conflict with the Bible.
Israel's ancient building forms were simpler and very different from Ancient Greek. Sadly much is made of the Temple Herod made. He used both Greek and Roman classical forms to decorate its surrounding courts. Some might admire the fancy workmanship of Greek style. Our Lord was not an admirer.
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, “As for these things which ye behold (Mark has 'See thou these great buildings?'), the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Luke 21:5-6, Matt 24:2)
In other words he was not impressed. It is a possibility our God was not impressed.
For one, Herod could have used acanthus decorations, as he used elsewhere in his realm. They were a symbol of a Greek idea of eternity. By contrast the pillars of Solomon's temple were decorated with 200 pomegranates (I kings 7:20).
I have tested the plan measurements for the gates and drawn them to scale, and conclude they are rational. The overall plans give the scope of a massive building. The plans linked to here are 1:100. They show only the outer gate. There is another building which has the same dimensions 100 cubits away or about 50m, over a pavement. Imagine a courtyard. What if the pavement was also a place of beauty, with fountains and plants?
Yet also the building itself features palms.
3) Palm trees
The way Ezekiel speaks of the palms in his vision, they form a significant part of what he sees.
They are measured but there appears no measurement for them. Their measurement is that of the the posts on the posts. We can then divide the measurement in two, to account for both sides. Looking at the structural proportion, as gravity won't change that much, and this temple is on earth, this is logical. Sixty cubits is about 30m. At 15m the proportions for the posts' width-to-height are right. It is very high, imagine walking into a lobby which is over 5 stories high. But It's also rational.
What if the palms (plural) on the posts formed the arches (collonade)?The concept of palm trees forming the arches
A building made in 1936-39 has became famous for a palm-tree-like structure. The Johnson wax building began an approach to structure like 'palm trees', though they are called 'lilies'. The beauty of this is that it lets light between the structure.
This idea is even more evident in more recent work by an architect named Santiago Calatrava, now working from out of Switzerland. The 'trees' are, more open, and the light that comes through the structure much brighter.
In the description Ezekiel is given the overall plan dimension then shown
Ezekiel 40:16 narrow windows (perforated) to (near, with or among: -about, according to, after, against, because of, by, for)
and to (near, among) their posts (strong support, lintels, tree) within the gate round about (on all sides), and likewise to the arches (collonade, portico): and windows (perforated) round about inward:
and upon the posts palm trees (plural).
It seems a description of how light enters the space. His eye travels from the chambers up. He describes what he sees between (or among) the structure, right up to the roof and ceiling. The top is described as palm trees being on the post.
If it's to stun the world, it's going to be more remarkable than anything ever seen. What I might dress the plan as might be close, but it's still going to be far short of the glory. Something that we might now imagine, is only as a pale shadow, but which in reality will be stunning.
When Ezekiel was in the collonade, that is standing between the posts, he looked up and saw palm trees. It seems likely, as there is no description of the roof at all, that they are the roof.
It makes even sense that the one measurement is from the post top, up the palm tree over the top of the branch to the other palm tree, to form the collonade. If indeed the palm fronds meet in a smooth arch (not a pointed one), one measurement makes sense as it would be hard to find a point to stop on the smooth curve. Structurally that makes sense too.
How much like a palm tree might it be?
The word for palm trees occurs 18 times in the Bible. Israel camped by 70 palm trees. Jericho is called the city of palm trees. Palm trees were used to decorate the ceiling in the temple,
And the greater house he cieled with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains. (2Chron. 3:5)
The palm tree is associated with the feast of Tabernacles, and is the same word as used in Ezekiel (Leviticus 23:40, Nehemiah 8:15).
In each case it is literal, except the decoration of the ceiling of the Temple. But even in that context the implication is that in some way the literal palm tree was reflected in the decorative ones, including their gracious branches. In the Temple built by Solomon, as in Ezekiel's temple, the palm trees were associated with the ceiling: not the walls.
To understand this we might think of the Jewish Sukkah.
Feast of Tabernacles
The feast of tabernacles features a divine command regarding palm tree branches.
Ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days (Lev 23:40
And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. (Nehemiah 8:15)
Notice that Leviticus only names the palm tree, and allows for others, but Nehemiah names others.
It is specifically mentioned that the Temple will be the place of worship at the feast of tabernacles,
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
An interesting Jewish commentary, links the branches to the roof, and to seeing through the roof to the heavens.
Hence, the true mission of the Sanctuary – or succah – is to re-create and perfect the earth.
That’s why its architect had to be endowed with the same attributes the Almighty used to create the world. And so on Succot we bring special vegetation – the Four Species – into the Synagogue/Temple, through whose vegetable roof we can see the stars.
And on the last day of the festival – Shmini Atzeret-Simhat Torah – we pray for God’s life-giving waters and take Torah scrolls out into the streets so that every human being may accept the yoke of the heavenly kingship. So we have come full circle advancing from the broken terua to the glorious redemption of the world.
The cycle of Jewish Torah/Tanakh readings ends at the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, and begins again the next day. The first reading is about Creation. The concept of water and the new creation, we can understand as our Lord stood up on the last day of the feast and said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37).
The Temple of the kingdom is a picture of the new creation. There were four faces to the Cherubim Ezekiel saw (also over the ark of the Tabernacle and the Temple Solomon built. There are two in the Temple that Ezekiel sees, leaving out the ox and the vulture. The ox was for strength in labour, the vulture for far-sighted care, their absence indicating God's nearness in the new creation.
There would be great significance in the building people saw at the feast of tabernacles featuring an entrance,
in effect a huge succah, roof made from palm fronds (branches).
One to One scale of the Palm Tree
Whereas olive trees are not 15m tall, and they tend to branch out. The palm tree looks like a column, growing straight up, and reaches readily 15m and up to 18m.
Date palm trees can reach up to 60 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. ...Cultivators normally plant these palm trees 25 to 35 feet apart.
The date palm has a single stem of 15 to 30 m. Some 12 (0-25 range) flower buds develop during the winter in the axils of some of the leaves just below the growing point. The leaves (4 m long) can live up to 7 years, There are 12 inflorescences every year.
There are male and female plants. The date palm may reach an age of over 100 years and reach up to 30 m in height. Daily water uptake of an adult date palm is estimated with 150 to 200 l. Rain fed date palm cultivation is not possible. To ensure growth and development of the berries irrigation is needed. At the age of 30 years date palms are reaching the high-yielding period.
Date palms are described as 'Umbrella like foliage' - 18 inches diameter after 30 ft high The New Orleans Garden: Gardening in the Gulf South By Charlotte Seidenberg
From this also the spacing of a palm grove, at approximately 7-9m centre to centre of the trees, matches the span of the Temple over each entry. There is ~5m (10 cubits) clear over the threshold and ~1.5m between and the same on the other side which adds up to ~8m. This is within the range for planting date palms.
When Ezekiel saw them, he called them palms, as the structure may have looked like mature palm trees in every respect, at one to one scale.
Looking up into the fronds of a date palm, one can see how they give the sense of being an umbrella.
4) The significance of the palm
There is a palm tree that symbolises Judah. The whole Jordan valley was full of palm trees at the time of the Roman arrival. But after AD70 the trade in Judean dates ended. Recently in a remarkable case, which is highly symbolic, the ancient Judean date palm was regrown.
Prized for its beauty, shade, and medicinal properties, the cultivar was thought to have become extinct sometime around AD 150. However, in 2005, a preserved 2,000-year-old seed sprouted... (The university of Zurich confirmed the seeds dated from between 155 BC to AD 64). ..It was at the time the oldest known human-assisted germination of a seed... The palm, named Methuselah.. was about 1.5 m (5 ft) tall in June 2008. As of November 2011, it is reported at 2.5m height...
A recognized symbol of the Kingdom of Judea.
The palm may be crossbred with its closest living relative, the Hiyani date from Egypt, to generate fruit by 2022.
The book Plants of the Bible by Michael Zohary states: “The Hebrew word for the date palm is ‘tàmâr.’ . . . It became the Jews’ symbol of grace and elegance and was often bestowed by them to women.” For example, Solomon’s beautiful half sister was named Tamar.
The revival of the tree of Judah in Israel is at the national level of its significance.
But there is an individual level of the palm tree's significance which is suggested in the Psalms.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; (Psalm 92:12-14)
By an interesting co incidence the date palm tree has a parallel to human life. They require tender care when they are young. They are male and female. They don't bear until about 17 (2022-2005 from the above). Their best bearing years for fruit are at age 30, and they might live up to 100 years, bearing fruit for that time. The branches live 7 years, which is similar to the life of a human cell. The lesson from the date palm is that they do not bear fruit if not constantly receiving daily hundreds of litres of water, in excess of rainfall. The righteous require the water of the word, and by that they flourish.
It seems this parallel might be given a symbolic representation in the construction of the roof. Ezekiel mentions seeing the palm trees ten times.
The palm is seen as beautiful,
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! This thy stature is like to a palm tree (tamar), and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; (Song 7:6-8)
But it is also known for its many uses. A Persian song of the Chaldean period listed 360 uses of the palm tree (Seignobos, Charles- The world of Babylon, Nineveh and Assyria. Leon Amiel, New York, Paris). It was mentioned in Joel 1:9-12 after the vine, fig and pomegranate, which shows it was an important source of food, also such things as thatching and brooms. It was an exemplar of beauty and utility combining.
The palm also provides useful shade.
And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:5)
Individuals might dwell under vines and fig trees (1 kings 4:25), but the judge of Israel dwelt under a palm tree. This again is points to the Temple of the future where the nations would be judged. There would be some purpose in that great structure about the inner structure, also on the wall. Traditionally judgment occurred at the gates.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. (Proverbs 31:23)
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. (Psalm 118:19-20)
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. (Psa 87:2-3)
And again David's role at the gates, that they will not just be for judgment but also praise in teaching,
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation. (Psalm 9:13-14)
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4)
Again, and again we have the sense that the gates are very important.
A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:1-2)
In Ezekiel 'Doors' might be rendered 'openings', and it does seem that the perimeter structure has a wall, but the gates are not closed, but always open, except the Eastern one,
And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. (Isaiah 60:10-11)
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. (Rev 21:25-26)
If so we can see the kings of the nations coming and going all the time to these grand chambers under the palm trees over the gates. Is it there are 12 gates (Rev 21:21)? It might be 12 plus a centre gate. It might be solved if the Eastern side only has one gate, and the other sides have 12 each. It's a minor point. We don't know as, except regarding a symbolic building in Revelation, we are not told.
David sought a role he was promised,
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a keeper of the threshold (as the Hebrew implies) in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)
It might be fitting that just as a Sukkah, the 'roof' over the gates shows it is open to the sky (though there is no reason to preclude the use of glass), as it would remind people,
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
If the roof is so open to the sky, as the text implies, and there are events going on into the night, where are the lights? In the first Temple, the Glory was a light in cloud that filled the Most Holy, in the temple of Ezekiel's prophecy the Glory literally could shed light over the entire site, as in the wilderness wanderings when Israel lived in Tabernacles.
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
As the world becomes focussed on Israel and Jerusalem, with even nations leaders who remote from Israel having an opinion, we might consider that it is said that those who touch Jerusalem, touch God's eye.
There is some debate about whether Russia is named in the Bible. Many nations that exist today were named in prophecy. There is some eviednce that Russia is named, actually taking on a name that was given to them before they themselves chose it.
People have heard of the God of Israel being described as Jealous, they have read that his voice may thunder, but it seems people may miss that Yahweh Elohim loves quiet in his dwelling.
This day the Ninth of Av (30 July 2009) is not a memorial given by God. It is a Jewish day for mourning the evil of the sudden absence of God that came with the destruction of the Temple (twice, on the same date, the Ninth of Av, 660 years apart), and 65 years later on the same date, in 135AD the destruction of the last Jewish fortress of the Bar Kochba revolt from Rome, after 3 years of Jewish independence in the Holy Land.